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Council spends £660 on security and thousands on legal costs amid ‘bullying’ row

PUBLISHED: 08:37 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 10:26 10 March 2020

Attleborough Town Council and mayor Tony Crouch have accused councillors Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer of

Attleborough Town Council and mayor Tony Crouch have accused councillors Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer of "harassment, bullying and intimidation”. Picture: Sonya Duncan/Breckland Council

Archant Norfolk Photographic

A council at the centre of a row over bullying allegations has spent £660 on security for two heated meetings and thousands on legal costs in recent months.

Attleborough Town Council convened amid the ongoing 'bullying' saga which has seen Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer removed from committee duties. Picture: ArchantAttleborough Town Council convened amid the ongoing 'bullying' saga which has seen Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer removed from committee duties. Picture: Archant

Attleborough Town Council (ATC) convened on Monday evening for an adjourned meeting after one last week was abandoned after just three-and-a-half minutes.

The council later blamed the premature conclusion on 'jeering and heckling' from the public, who were left disgruntled after public participation was omitted from the agenda.

It comes amid controversy over allegations of 'harassment, bullying and intimidation' against councillors Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer, who have been removed from council committees and barred from becoming mayor for two years. The pair have strongly denied the allegations.

At Monday's meeting, amid obvious unrest, townsfolk were finally given an opportunity to question ATC over its handling of the issues.

Taila Taylor Taila Taylor "categorically denies" allegations of bullying made her against her and fellow Attleborough town councillor, Ed Tyrer. Picture: Breckland Council

After mayor Tony Crouch informed the public that interjections would not be permitted, Mervyn Beales - a member of the public - began the public participation section by asking: 'When is the bullying supposed to have started?'

Following deliberation between town clerk Gina Lopes, council solicitor Nicholas Hancox and Mr Crouch, the latter responded: 'We're not going to answer that.'

Mr Beales added: 'Is that surely not what this problem is all about? If - as the council has publicised - this started two years ago, it should have been resolved a year ago.

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'Has every councillor present seen definite written evidence of the allegations of bullying?'

Mr Crouch answered: 'As this is a staff issue, I'm not discussing it in an open forum.'

When asked again whether he was prepared to answer questions on the issue, Mr Crouch firmly responded: 'No.'

MORE: Protesters rally in support of councillors accused of 'bullying'

Attleborough mayor Tony Crouch (pictured) has accused Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer of Attleborough mayor Tony Crouch (pictured) has accused Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer of "bullying". Picture: Archant

Debbie Lane, another attendee, added: 'Is it normal procedure to have a paid lawyer at every council meeting and do you think it's a good use of council funds?'

She was promised a written response to her query.

Later on, as members scrutinised the council's financial matters, it was revealed more than £13,750 has been spent on Mr Hancox's services in recent months, with another £660 spent on hiring security staff for two previous meetings.

Miss Taylor said: 'Last week it was stated a re-election would cost approximately £10,000 - that's £4,000 cheaper [than the solicitor's cost].'

Ed Tyrer has been removed from committee duties by Attleborough Town Council following claims of Ed Tyrer has been removed from committee duties by Attleborough Town Council following claims of "bullying" that he says are completely untrue". Picture: Attleborough Town Council

However, Mrs Lopes highlighted Mr Hancox's employment for other council matters as a contributing factor to the cost.

MORE: Police investigate malicious communications report towards town council


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